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Mackey sidesteps questions about personnel history

Dec. 4, 2007

Mecklenburg sheriff candidate Nick Mackey presented himself Tuesday as an educated choice for a job he had been preparing himself for for years.

Speaking to the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, he sidestepped key questions from the audience, and did not address himself to public controversy over his reasons for resigning from the Charlotte Police Department.

He had acknowledged to the Charlotte Observer Monday that before he resigned he faced accusations of lying about hours worked. The Observer said he "denied any wrongdoing and said he stopped fighting the allegations to focus on taking the bar exam to become an attorney."

In response to a question from commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts Tuesday morning, Mackey did commit to support "healing" after a decision is made Thursday on who will succeed Jim Pendergraph, who resigned last month. Mackey added, "Trust has been lost as a result of a lot of things.... Right now dialogue is desperately needed."

The Executive Committee of the Democratic Party is scheduled to choose Thursday between Mackey and acting Sheriff Chipp Bailey.

When a questioner noted that applicants would not be hired for the sheriff's staff with the speeding tickets and personal bankruptcy that Mackey reportedly has in his record, Mackey replied, "I personally do not consider a bankruptcy some type of scarlet letter. I've never applied to the sheriff's department so I don't know their procedures."

Mackey has declined to release his personnel file or provide information on a Civil Service Board inquiry that was pending at the time of his resignation from the police department. Bailey has released his sheriff's department personnel file.

When a questioner in effect asked Mackey why he would want to be sheriff when he must know that sooner or later the details of that personnel file would emerge, Mackey responded:

"I never expected this kind of controversy. But to answer your question, [it's] because of my strong commitment to public service. My entire adult life has been dedicated to public service in one form or the other, when I worked for the police department, and then when I left to become a lawyer, I represented indigents.... I just have a commitment to public service....

"I read a quote two weeks ago... criticism can be avoided by doing nothing, saying nothing and being nothing. So I choose to say something, do something and be something, so I'm being criticized."


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